Traffic between Kerala and Tamil Nadu was disrupted for about two hours on Friday as Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) workers organised roadblocks at key border points to protest the Kerala government's move to build a new dam across the Mullaperiyar.
Bus services and goods movement were affected between Palakkad and Coimbatore, Parassala and Nagercoil and Kumili and Cumbum as the MDMK workers responded to the protest call given by party general secretary Vaiko.
The blockade resulted in vehicles piling up on either side for more than 20 to 30 km near Coimbatore. Movement of vehicles was restored after police removed the protesters. Police had a tough time regulating traffic for several hours.
The MDMK, along with other political outfits, had called for blocking all roads to Kerala (six in Coimbatore district at KG Chavadi, Vezhandavalam and Anaikatti in and around Coimbatore and at Nadupuni, Vazhanthayamaram and Gopalapuram on the Pollachi-Palakkad Road; Munnar Road at Udumalpet in Tirupur district; Cumbum Mettu, Bodi Mettu and on Kumuli Road in Theni district; Sengottah in Tirunelveli district; and Kaliakkavilai in Kanyakumari district).
A total of 4,657 persons were arrested in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts, of which 3,886 were removed by police from six spots in Coimbatore district. In Theni, Tamizhar Desiya Katchi leader P. Nedumaran, along with 1,600 MDMK cadre, was arrested when they picketed all three link roads to Kerala.
At Bodi, 600 cadre belonging to the MDMK, Forward Bloc and Periyar Dravida Kazhagam took out a rally from the Thevar statue and picketed the Bodi-Munnar highway, disrupting traffic for more than two hours.
Addressing a gathering of MDMK cadre and other organisations at a road blockade agitation at Kande Gounden Chavadi on the Coimbatore-Palakkad stretch of National Highway 47, Mr. Vaiko said: “The people of Kerala are not our enemies and Tamil Nadu has always wanted a cordial relationship and bonding with Keralites.”
He said the protest was not aimed at the DMK government but was intended to caution the Centre which was acting in favour of Kerala and failing to render justice to Tamil Nadu.
He accused Kerala of throwing the Supreme Court order to the winds and the Centre of remaining a mute spectator.
“If Kerala fails to mend its ways and act in a fair manner, then public outrage in Tamil Nadu will lead to a series of agitations of various dimensions.”